“Can oral sex cause cancer?”: Debunking oral sex myths and misconceptions

What oral sex myths have you heard? Is it true that it can cause cancer and other diseases? Here's a look at the facts and the science to help you make better, more informed decisions in the bedroom.

Health Sexual Health Simon Elstad

This article was published on March 16th, 2021

Sex ain’t sex without some mind-blowing foreplay, and what better way to spice it up than getting some sloppy toppy. You know, the intense deep throating that has your eyes rolling back in sheer ecstasy.

Whichever way you like it, the fact is that we all love some good head. Whether you give or receive it, this once-taboo sexual act is now a common practice among sexual partners.

However, in as much as it’s an intimate act, widespread misinformation still exists among most partners surrounding oral sex. Some of these deceptions go unaddressed and present risks that could have far-reaching health complications.

For instance, is it true that you can get Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) or even cancer from oral sex? Is there any need to strap up before giving or receiving head? Also, can you get injured from too much head?

There are numerous questions and myths regarding this intimate act of pleasure, some of which we debunk below.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Myth #1: You cannot get an STI from oral sex

Fact: STIs are easily transmitted through oral sex. The risks of getting one are high because you are likely exposed to genital fluids. You can also get infected if you don’t use protection (in the form of a dental dam) or have cuts or sores in your mouth.

The most common STI is the Human papillomavirus (HPV). It’s the most prevalent among men in the United States, affecting 1 in 9 of men aged 18 to 69. While HPV is known to cause cervical cancer in women, doctors have recently found that it can be transmitted through oral sex, leading to a range of cancer risks such as neck and throat cancers.

Myth #2: The use of condoms is not a must during oral sex

Fact: “Who wraps up anyway when getting head?” Don’t get it twisted. Oral sex counts as any other type of sex, and as such, you must observe safe sex practices to avoid transmission of any STI-related diseases.

So how do you protect yourself from infections? Simple: Use a barrier method which could either be a condom or dental barrier.  It may seem uncomfortable and probably not the best option for some people, but the contact is just as pleasurable.

Myth #3: There’s no chance of getting injured during a blowjob

Fact: If you thought that there’s no chance of getting injured during lovemaking, then you’d better think again. Yes, those moans of ecstasy could quickly turn into screams of agony. 

Penis injuries can occur when one partner moves unexpectedly in a new direction or when a guy’s dick scratches against a hard surface in the mouth (such as the teeth).

You should seek treatment for any penis-related injury or bite immediately to prevent the spread of infections.

Myth #4: Oral sex is not ‘real’ sex

Fact: Some people believe that their virginity is still intact if they have only participated in oral sex. The notion that oral sex is not the real thing stems from the idea that it isn’t penetrative in a traditional sense. Well, science begs to differ. 

Doctors opine that oral sex is still sex as it involves as many risks as intercourse, including the transmission of STIs.

Myth #5: There is no harm in swallowing

Fact: There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding semen and its potential health benefits on the body. Well, that’s a topic for another day. But, as far as swallowing the nut is concerned (if your partner is free of STIs), there is no harm. However, consider taking care of your oral health.

Doctors suggest that some penile secretions could be unhealthy for your teeth. A majority of the secretions are slightly acidic. Therefore, consider brushing your teeth when you’re done chugging on that big gulp of nut.

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